Bach's Christmas Oratorio - Holy Trinity Church - 16th November 2019
It is many years since Stratford Choral Society last sang Bach's Christmas Oratorio, and some would say this welcome return of a great choral favourite is long overdue.
The Christmas Oratorio holds much the same place in German musical life as Handel's Messiah does in the English speaking world. Both are great musical re-tellings of the Christmas story, and the similarities don't end there. Bach and Handel were born in the same year, 1685, and Bach's Christmas Oratorio dates from 1734, just seven years before Handel wrote the Messiah.
However while Handel wrote one large oratorio for concert performance, Bach wrote a suite of six cantatas, to be performed in church on six festival days from Christmas to Epiphany. These six are parts 1 to 6 of the Christmas Oratorio, and for concert performance it is normal to sing three or four parts, as the complete work takes around three hours! We have chosen to sing parts 1, 3 and 6.
First page of the first part of the Christmas Oratorio
Part 1 is the cantata for Christmas day, and as you would expect it is a joyful celebration of the birth of Jesus; Part 3 was written for December 27th and tells of the adoration of the shepherds; while Part 6 was written for the feast of Epiphany (January 6th) and the visit of the Magi (the three Kings) to worship a new-born King.
We hope you will join us for this early start to the Christmas season and to enjoy one of J S Bach's greatest works.
The young JS Bach